Sacramento, CA - National and grassroots Turkish American associations joined power to defeat California Assembly Bill 961, a proposed law that sought to punish companies who did business in the Ottoman Empire or do who business in Turkey today.  The bill was introduced by Armenian Assemblyman Paul Krikorian and supported by nationalists Armenian groups. On the front line were activists from ATAA component organizations, the Turkish American Association of California (TAACA) and the Association of Turkish Americans of S. California (ATASC).  Ergun Kirlikovali and Karahan Mete lead over 25 local Turkish Americans to provide statements at the public hearings of the Business and Professions and Judiciary Committees.  An elderly Turkish American woman placed roses on the podium for each of her family members who were massacred during the Armenian Revolt (1885-1921), that caused the deaths and displacement of over 600,000 Muslims and Jews in Eastern Anatolia.


ATAA President Nurten Ural submitted a statement to the California Assembly that A.B. 961 was an unconstitutional creation of foreign policy and an unconstitutional interference against the private sector.  President Nurten stated:

"A.B. 961 is nothing more than Armenian ethnic politics to legislate Turkish history and a genocide conviction against Turkey, and to vent that condemnation by punishing companies, including but not limited to energy (e.g., BP, Shell, Exxon), insurance (e.g., New York Life, AXA), and other sectors (e.g., Nestle), who did business with the Ottoman Empire nearly one hundred years ago and to prohibit them from doing business with the State of California. A.B.  961 contravenes good history, good law, and good social responsibility in business.  A.B. 961 contradicts federal foreign affairs efforts to support truth and reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia."

The Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF), a private lawyers' group supported by private sector contributions, and lead by Bruce Fein and David Saltzman, did most of the legal heavy lifting.  The California Assembly Legal Counsel agreed with most of the TALDF's legal positions, and stated in a legal report that substantial funds will be necessary to litigate A.B. 961 against constitutional challenges.  The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commerce (TOBB-USA) also provided a statement on behalf of the Turkish private sector, and in defense of U.S.-Turkish trade.  Turkey is the 15th largest economy in the world, and 5th largest in Europe.  TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu recently stated that Turkey aims to be in the top three in Europe and top ten in the world by 2023.

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